Merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, and other varietal wines vie for palate-pleasing prominence during the three-day Las Olas Wine Festival, held today through Saturday. Modeled after a similar annual event in Aspen, Colorado, this celebration of fine food and wine features winetastings at 24 Las Olas Boulevard locations between 4th and 11th avenues today and Friday. For $20 sippers can stroll Las Olas from 6 to 9 p.m., indulging in as many tastings as their tolerance will allow. Diners can enjoy the company and conversation of vintners from Kendall Jackson, Kenwood, and Clos Du Bois wineries (among others) at winemakers' dinners ($65), to be held at 9 p.m. both today and Friday at various Fort Lauderdale restaurants. A Grand Tasting ($30) takes place at the Riverside Hotel, 620 E. Las Olas Blvd., from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, and the fest concludes at 9 p.m. Saturday with the Officer's Club Grand Dinner ($90) at the Grill Room on Las Olas, located in the Riverside. For festival information call 800-524-8010.
Now in its 22nd year, the Broward County Fair opens today at the Pompano Park Race Track, running through November 30. A lineup of top national musical acts starts rotating across the fair stage tonight at 8 p.m. with the power-country showcase of Mark Chesnutt, David Lee Murphy, and Gary Allan. Friday features the groovy, feel-good rock of the Spin Doctors; Tonic brings its alterna-balladry to the stage Tuesday; and Christian-pop rocker Clay Crosse performs on Sunday, November 30. Other attractions include 120 rides on the midway, a 50-ton sand sculpture, the Ice Extravaganza, fireworks shows, animal and horticulture exhibits, a thrill arena featuring the high-altitude balancing of Carla Wallenda, and a demolition derby open to men and women. (Call the fair to register.) The Sunset Celebration Parade -- with entertainers, classic cars, marching bands, and more -- is set for 6:30 each evening. Tickets for the fair range from $5 to $7. Gates open at 3 p.m. today at Pompano Park, located at Atlantic Boulevard and Powerline Road in Pompano Beach. Call 954-450-1234 for additional information.
Standup comedian Jeff Altman looks "normal" enough when he walks on-stage. But his clean-cut image belies his penchant for outrageous outbursts and character gags. Altman describes his stage persona as "the guy next door who just had a hot caramel enema." Pulling his pants up higher and higher while he portrays his aging dad in one of his trademark routines, for example, he blurts out paternal threats from his past. He'll also take audiences back to his college days at Johns Hopkins, where, he says, it wasn't until his senior year that he discovered "I'd been highlighting my books with a black marker." As the father of a toddler daughter, the fortysomething Altman doesn't hit the stage as often as he used to these days, but South Florida audiences have a chance to check out his outlandish antics at Bocanuts Comedy Club tonight and Saturday night. Tickets cost $12. Two shows each night: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Bocanuts is located at 8221 Glades Rd. in Boca Raton. For information call 561-470-6887.
Hey y'all, it's time for the 57th annual Orange Blossom State Finals Rodeo, which brings hard-riding action to the Davie Arena this weekend. Professional riders and ropers will compete for the $5400-added purse and state bragging rights in this Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event that includes bareback and saddled bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. Special entertainment will be provided by Frank Strout and his amazing horse, plus Peppy, the cowboy monkey that herds sheep from his mount atop a Border collie. Tickets range from $5 to $12. Gates open at 6 p.m. both today and Saturday with the action commencing at 8 p.m. Davie Arena is located at Orange Drive and 65th Avenue in downtown Davie. Call 954-384-7075 for additional information.
Laser Zeppelin it ain't. Dorothy Tanner and Marc Billard of Lumonics Light & Sound Theatre combine their mind-bending light sculptures and laser imagery with progressive Middle Eastern music and dance for An Evening With Harmonic Motion. The core performers of South Florida-based Harmonic Motion, founded in 1985, are musician-vocalist Joe Zeytoonian and dancer-percussionist Myriam Eli. Zeytoonian began his career in Boston with popular Middle Eastern and Armenian ensembles playing the oud, a Middle Eastern string instrument that he'll perform on during tonight's show. Eli dances while playing frame drums, finger cymbals, tambourine, and the hourglass-shaped hand drum called the darbuka. Meanwhile, Lumonics' Tanner and Billard use a battery of projectors, 50 "light sculptures," and lasers to create surreal atmospherics that flows to the music and movement. An interactive, audience-participation drum-and-dance jam follows the show, so bring your drums and shakers -- and your sense of rhythm. The 8:30 p.m. performance is at Lumonics, 3017 NW 60th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 and reservations are suggested. Call 954-979-3161.
The program for Gala Performance by the Stars of the Kirov represents a virtual Top 10 of great ballet excerpts -- except there are only eight selections. Portions of Swan Lake, Butterfly, Carmen, Giselle, Diana and Acteon, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, and Le Corsaire are presented by the Kirov Ballet's principal dancers. The pieces were all premiered by, or created for, the world-renowned company sometime during its 250-year history. The program, held at 8 p.m. today and Tuesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, is presented as part of the Concert Association of Florida's 199798 Premier Dance Series. Ticket prices range from $15 to $45. For tickets and information, call 954-523-6116. The Kirov performs again at 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Tickets for that performance cost $25 to $50. Call 800-572-8471.
You say "virtuosos," we say "virtuosi." Russian conductor-violinist Vladimir Spivakov plays an instrument as old as some of the music that comes flowing sweetly from its strings, and he'll pull his bow across them as he leads the Moscow Virtuosi in concert today at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. In 1979 Spivakov handpicked the members of the Virtuosi -- now one of the world's preeminent chamber ensembles -- from the top-ranking soloists of the great orchestras of what was then the Soviet Union. That same year the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cultural Exchange Agreement collapsed following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, so it wasn't until 1987 that the Moscow Virtuosi performed in the United States. Since 1989 the ensemble has returned for stateside tours six times; this year the Virtuosi bring a program featuring Bach, Shostakovich, Webern, and Tchaikovsky. Spivakov performs a solo during Bach's Concerto in C minor for Violin, Oboe, and Strings, on which he'll be joined by principal oboist Alexei Utkin. The Kravis Center is located at 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Tickets for the 2 p.m. performance range in price from $20 to $65. Call 800-572-8471.
Take pounding, tribal drumming and add deep, pulsating bass licks, and you've got jungle, the subgenre of electronic dance music that has risen to chart-topping prominence in the United Kingdom and is quickly gaining ground on the DJ-fertile South Florida scene. Now you can take a weekly dance safari at A Jungle Ting, the drum-and-bass format night now in residence every Wednesday night at Squeeze. DJ and In-Depth Records recording artist Element, a Fort Lauderdale local, spins at this week's jungle jam. He's joined by another homegrown talent, DJ Roxanne, a spinstress breaking into the DJ boys' club with her own phat jungle beats. "When it started in '92 or '93, we didn't know that it would evolve from the reggae that influenced it early on," says 26-year-old Element, whose parents still call him Dale Nibbe. "Now it's headed in all different directions." A $5 cover gets you into the groove starting at 9 p.m. at Squeeze, 2 S. New River Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-522-2151 for more information.